Former Vikings pass rusher retires from football at the age of 28

Former Minnesota Vikings DL Hercules Mata'afa
Former Minnesota Vikings DL Hercules Mata'afa / Hannah Foslien/GettyImages

Despite a stellar college career at Washington State, Hercules Mata'afa was passed on by the Minnesota Vikings and every other team in the league during the 2018 NFL Draft.

Luckily for Mata'afa, he wound up signing a contract with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent shortly after he wasn't selected in the 2018 draft. At the time, many thought Minnesota had landed a gem in the former Washington State defensive lineman.

In the end, however, Mata'afa was never really able to make much of an impact during his time with the Vikings, and the team moved on from him after the 2020 season.

Former Minnesota Vikings pass rusher Hercules Mata'afa retires from professional football

Well, after failing to latch on with another NFL team following his departure from Minnesota, the former Vikings defensive lineman has apparently decided to retire from playing professional football.

Mata'afa announced his retirement from football on Wednesday when he shared a post on his personal Instagram account that included the following caption.

"Dear Football,

Thank you for everything you have given me. I’m writing to you to tell you I can no longer give you everything I once was willing to give. My mind and body no longer have the strength to handle the preparation it takes to give you my everything.

With that being said, I am officially retiring from football. I’m so grateful for every opportunity that was handed to me, all the amazing people I’ve met along my journey, and especially grateful for the support amongst everybody along the way.

Because of you, I have learned and grown so much. You paved a way for me and gave me so much.


Following his final season with Minnesota in 2020, Mata'afa spent a short amount of time in 2021 as a member of the practice squads of both the Washington Commanders and Jacksonville Jaguars.

In 2022, he signed with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. He ended up spending two seasons with the Generals, and in a total of 10 appearances, he accumulated 27 tackles and six sacks.

When the USFL and XFL merged into the UFL last year, the Generals disbanded, and Mata'afa wound up joining the UFL's Birmingham Stallions. However, the former Vikings defensive lineman didn't end up making it to the 2024 UFL regular season, as the Stallions waived him in March.

During his time with Minnesota, Mata'afa appeared in 19 games, and he finished with a total of 25 tackles (four for a loss), 13 pressures, six QB hits, 2.5 sacks, one pass deflection, and one fumble recovery.

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